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Community Comment

Archive for June 2009

We have an Ombudsman—sort of…

Good morning, Netizens…

You have to always give credit to the elder spokespersons in our Fair City, because their sense of right and wrong nearly always are spot-on when it comes to recommending clinically good decisions. No, I am not bespeaking the lackluster members of the Spokane City Council. Bob Apple aside, the City Council ‘s lack of decisiveness and acumen is only equalled by their ability to hold decent public meetings where the public can speak to issues without fear of being escorted from the premises. There are other elders in our community who speak well, have cogent thought processes and aren’t afraid to speak their piece, even in front of the august City Council members.

Now take last night’s City Council meeting, for example, where they ratified the lackluster Police Ombudsman who-has-no-authority. As I have stated in the recent past, having a Police Ombudsman without full investigatory powers similar to those held by the Ombudsman in Boise, Idaho, is a waste of taxpayer’s money. Apparently most of the elder spokespersons in our community agree with that.

Marianne Torres perhaps coined the description best when she described hiring Tim “Hippie” Burns as Police Ombudsman like “a fox watching the chicken coop”.

Now you might not like Marianne Torres, because of some of her political stances. You might want to ask her why, if she is as sage as she appears, why she never ran for City Council. Maybe it is because she is too savvy to do something crazy like run for a City Council position. On the other hand, Mz. Torres aptly speaks for the disenfranchised, the downtrodden in our midst, most of whom question just about everything passed into law in our fair city. You take away the Ombudsman’s authority and what do you have? Nuttin’ baby. Everyone except the members of the City Council and the Mayor seem to agree with that.

Of course, if you have attended and/or watched City Council meetings past and present, you would know George McGrath. I am told there is even a George McGrath fan club, given the length of time he has appeared in the Citizens Forum pointing out the inequities of our city government. Typically armed with a sheaf of public documents, and loaded for bear, George can be counted upon to point out gross stupidity in our midst, and has done so for decades. George was escorted from last night’s City Council session for muttering deprecations from the audience about the ombudsman position. He is right when he says there is nothing being accomplished for the citizens.

That’s the problem, in my eyes. We have a Police Ombudsman bereft of any real powers, and a City Council and Mayor who do not know when to shut up and listen to our village elders.

However, we have a Police Ombudsman now. Sort of. Our City is still married to the Police Guild, a quasi-secret society of police that make their own rules as they go along. Can you agree with them or the Village Elders? It’s a choice, you know.


Global warming as a theory…

Good morning, Netizens…

Cartoonist David Horsey gives us some clinically-flawless examples of medieval thinking this morning which would be highly functional, were it not for the Republican Caucus hiding behind their covert doorways advancing their theories about science.

I can see it now. In the Arctic Regions, icebergs hold covert but unsentient meetings and vote unanimously to “melt down for the heck of it”. You cannot deny they are melting down, because there is proof what is taking place. Giant icebergs calving is not that scientific in nature: just pull up your lawn chair, have a seat and watch. If you can’t figure out why they are melting down, you call the scientific theory of the time a hoax and be done with it.

Asking members of the Republican Caucus to approach scientific thinking, or even critical thinking for that matter, with a clear path of thought seems an anachronism to some, but then long ago in history we had people who swore on their honor that the world was flat and that the sun revolved the planet earth. Time changes things; things change time. It will be interesting to see what the theories we currently hold about Global Warming will be like in a few decades, perhaps.

Perhaps by then we might even have some theories about how Republicans feel about Global Warming then.


Peace in Iraq? Why SURE!

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Tomorrow, June 30, Americans will withdraw from Iraqi cities, a first giant step toward the planned winding down of the War in Iraq. In this AP picture, Iraqis are already celebrating in the parks and on the streets. Why are they celebrating?

Some suggest it is because they are well-rid of the Evil Empire of the United States. Others, perhaps more sensibly, suggest that now the United States has left Iraqi cities, they are once more free to resume their bloody factional religious warfare free of anyones interference.

Does the United States leaving Iraq’s cities mean there will be peace in that country?

Why sure. Whatever would make you think otherwise?


The simplicity of life by a stream…

Good morning, Netizens…

Now, staggering and weaving from beneath our collective load of discord, grief and strife, tinged with the certainty beyond all credible doubt that all of us will die someday, we have finally reached Sunday. It is festooned before us, dressed gaudily in bright spring flowers and tall roses blossoming from the trellis across the front entry to the Virtual Ballroom while overhead, the first vestiges of infant bird life scream from atop every bush and tree, hungry for their meal. You could not, in sensible mind, ask for a more beautiful day than we have today. Now watch some misguided politician, public servant or bureaucrat come along and destroy it with the creation of some half-baked plan designed to either enrich themselves at the public expense, or prevent us from enjoying the bounty of the day.

Let us agree I have not been overawed by summer this or any other year, for no sooner than I begin to relish the gentle breezes of summer, they turn into winds that blow wildfires incredibly out of control and people lose their dreams in the smoke. Yet when the Lady I call summer reclines against the brick wall outside the Virtual Ballroom, indolently letting her hair fall down in passionate luster across the lands, and in the quiet summer sunsets when she strolls through the verdant farms and fields and for once, the wheat stands tall, not flattened by winds and hail, I see and feel her most dearly. For there is nothing more sacred than sitting upon a rock that has been in the same place since before the time of Christ, watching the sunset of a perfect summer day as it ripples, gamboling among the ferns and water grasses along the river’s edge.

For there is a part of me that truly loathes the city. Rather than swim in a chlorine saturated swimming pool among people, most of whom have never dived into a backwoods pool where moss and frogs all dwell, I would rather do cannonballs off an old farmer’s bridge and take my chances with the snakes and various forms of wildlife I might chance to encounter. I never dreamed nor conceived of life while sitting in a swimming pool, but laying beneath an old bridge in the shade, escaping a scorching hot summer day and swimming in a mud-bottom pond. Of course, life was much simpler then than now.

If you chance to ask an adolescent kid from the city, “What kind of tree is that over there?” the chances are better than not they probably do not know, or if you ask them, “What kind of a plant is that, growing there along the water’s edge”, the chances are few of them ever had aunts or uncles that knew the land so well as to tell them how to create honeysuckle wine or when to harvest wild cherries from along the fence rows in the summer to make a perfect pie.

I fear I am working too hard. For a man in his mid-sixties, I probably need to seriously consider slowing down, resting more often between major undertakings. However, there is so much more I wish to see, particularly in summer when the love of the land is there, waiting to be bestowed upon anyone who daydreams when they wander in the fields or laughs along the quiet little streams that chatter obliquely to themselves.


What other news is there?

Good morning, Netizens…

Here we are, another wonderful summer day in the Virtual Ballroom, and while the Ghosts are gathered in hushed groups throughout the ballroom, whispering no doubt of the death of Michael Jackson under what appear to be mysterious circumstances, the news wires, always chattering in their arcane manner behind the Virtual Espresso Bar never cease telling the tales of Michael Jackson. However, as this David Horsey cartoon for the day clearly shows, there is other news out there. Peer closely, if you will, at the cast of characters waiting for their hair appointments.

We have lots of news. News. News. News. This is because, somewhere across the face of this sphere we call home, someone is being very indiscreet, very stupid or just plain misbehaving and someone else is there with a camera and tape recorder to record the entire sordid event. Politicians are so predictable, as one ghost stated recently. Most of them seem to have a profound problem remaining faithful to their wives by keeping their pants zipped. Damned concubines are always making matrimonial faithfulness so difficult, aren’t they? Or is it the politicians themselves who have difficulties? This, of course, begs the question how many female politicians feel compelled to be unfaithful to their spouses, doesn’t it? Did Governor Mark Sanford learn anything in his trip to Argentina?

Normally we would hear about it almost immediately, and cluck our tongues that such things happen in our times. However, with nearly everyone in the news media covering the death of Michael Jackson, some news stories may have been overlooked in the haste to tell the tale of a terribly talented but sad life.

History, that guardian of all past transgressions and some new ones that are breaking, is sitting over beside the pit where the Virtual Orchestra still plays onward, recording whether all the hue and fury about Michael Jackson was worth it. In the meantime, there are lots of other worthy news stories, as David Horsey so aptly points out for us this morning.


Mark Sanford’s lament…

Good morning, Netizens…

Oh, but this is funny!

Don’t cry for me Argentina, indeed! David Horsey’s cartoon despicts Mark Sanford’s lament as “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” slightly revised.


Michael Jackson in retrospect…

Good evening, Netizens…

In a moment of being utterly candid, I’ll admit that the late “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson, was never precisely my cup of tea, although I was impressed with how he plied the top of the charts with his music and several of his dance moves bordered on the line of sheer genius. However, I always had issues with the ever-changing face of Michael Jackson: one month he was one face, the next month his face had evolved into something different, and in later years becoming more macabre over time. Toward the end of his life, despite the rumors he was gamely fighting to win his place back atop the pile of Pop music, I had simply stopped watching, for I no longer felt certain who he was.

If I pause to remember Michael Jackson, I probably would think first of the number of plastic surgeons he kept employed over the years, and ponder the meaning of all that glitz and sequins it took for him to take the stage. However, I will remember him most for his performance as a 5 year-old prodigy on stage with his family performing “I’ll be there”, and for me, one of his first and most-durable hits.

In his later years, however, his increasingly-macabre behavior, his stupid statements and his irrational dependence upon facial alterations drove me away.

I cannot forget nor forgive his comments about having little boys sleeping in his bed. I will not go into what I probably would do if any ordinary adult male made such a comment to me, but it wouldn’t be pretty to watch. Likewise dangling his infant over the railing of a hotel where he was staying: to a normal person that should be good for a few years in prison for reckless endangerment of an infant, but Michael Jackson was anything but a “normal” person.

My heroes and heroines have always been ordinary people who, when thrust into extraordinary places in life through talent, still somehow managed to remain decent people with sensible values. I guess that is where I drew the invisible line with Michael Jackson. I was never certain, especially toward the end exactly where his values lay, however great his talent and skill.

Your results, of course, may differ.


Michael Jackson dead…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Michael Jackson died this afternoon of what the news media are terming cardiac arrest.


The rush to judgment…

Good morning, Netizens…

I was impressed with the lengthy story in the Spokesman-Review about Karl F. Thompson, Jr.’s career in law enforcement. Several prior glowing statements notwithstanding by Chief Ann Kirkpatrick regarding his 37 years of service to law enforcement, there are few people who would contest my statement that Thompson has been a professional lawmen of incredible acumen and skill for most of his adult life. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Justice Studies and has attended the FBI Academy. If there is a poster child for the Spokane Police Department, Karl Thompson probably ranks right up near the top of the list.

Until he beat Otto Zehm senseless in the Zip Trip store and was later indicted by the Grand Jury, that is.

However, none of the allegations mean he is guilty until he receives a fair trial on the two charges he currently faces.

The convoluted trail of evidence, including the rest of the videotape from the Zip Trip store, other witnesses to the events that took place there and of course, the tearful history of the end of Otto Zehm’s life, which is what this is all about.

Or is it? Is Karl F. Thompson, Jr. the poster child of the Spokane Police Department he appears to be, or is he the unfortunate victim of flawed training programs which all Spokane Police Officers study?

I will say more about this later today, as I feel before we rush to commit judgment on Thompson, we need to understand the rationale behind his behavior.


What’s that smell?

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s David Horsey cartoon we see the logical outcome when Theocracy meets Democracy. Khameini, like most theocratic leaders speaks both for and to God and his people invariably follow his every beck and call. Democracy, on the other hand, suggests that it speaks to and for the voice of the common person. Iran is burning, and it isn’t over yet.


North Korean plans for the future…

Good morning, Netizens…

In this undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service in Tokyo Sunday, June 14, 2009, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, center, inspects the command of the 7th Infantry Division of the Korean People’s Army at an undisclosed location in North Korea.(AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)

The irreverent view, of course, of what is transpiring in this picture is North Korean President Kim Jong Il is pointing out to his inner cadre of military personnel where the new Dollyworld Center will be located once North Korea has wiped the United States off the map. Also planned is a Disney World-North Korea entertainment center, which will be located in a cleverly-planned yet unnamed location.

Jong Il has recently threatened to “wipe the United States off the map”, and having accomplished that goal, to establish new entertainment venues in North Korea to bolster its post-war economy.

That is, of course, if there is anything left of North Korea after the United States rises from the ashes.


The perfect foil has left the building…

Good morning, Netizens…

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends
I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, 1965 Rubber Soul album by the Beatles

Picture of Ed MacMahon and Johnny Carson AP

This morning’s picture of the late Johnny Carson and Ed MacMahon depicts both as I will always remember them. I never met nor knew either man, yet like so many across this nation, we grew into adulthood with them and aged as they both continued for nearly 30 years on television.

Ed MacMahon, despite his noxious and often offensive advertising for American Family Publishers Sweepstakes, which I have always thought was a scam, had a long a illustrious life in television.

McMahon, age 86, died shortly after midnight at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center surrounded by his wife, Pam, and other family members, said his publicist, Howard Bragman. One cannot help but wonder if in some remote corner of the Universe, Ed MacMahon is back to his mentor and sometimes-friend, Johnny Carson.

Thanks for the memories…


Is Thompson taking one for the Gipper too?


Good morning, Netizens…

Everyone in the Spokane News Media yesterday were separately and yet together beating their spoons against the bars that, until then, had kept the news media from truly knowing what was going on in the Otto Zehm murder investigation. For nearly two years all anyone in Spokane knew for fact was that Otto Zehm died at the hands of the police, and that there were horrid pictures of Karl F. Thompson, Jr. wailing on Zehm with his nightstick while Zehm lay on the floor; meanwhile we have the squad of officers standing outside the Zip Trip in the aftermath.

Then last Friday Howard F. Delaney, City Attorney and Rocco N. Treppiedi, his Assistant, filed a response to a civil lawsuit brought against the City of Spokane by the Center for Justice, who represent Otto Zehm’s mother in a lawsuit claiming Zehm’s civil rights were violated because of the unlawful use of deadly force in apprehending him, and in the city’s subsequent actions to “falsely portray” Zehm as the aggressor in the encounter. (Portions from the Center for Justice’s website.)

Yesterday, a day that will live long past this time in Spokane history, Federal Prosecutor Jim McDevitt made public the grand jury indictment. In it two felony indictments against police officer Karl F. Thompson, Jr. were unfurled before the news media that on or about March 18, 2006, Karl F. Thompson not only beat Zehm viciously with his baton and tasering him, thus inflicting bodily injury to Zehm, and (count 2) that on March 27, 2006, Thompson then knowingly gave false testimony to investigators.

You can read the entire indictment here again, courtesy of the Center for Justice.

According to McDevitt’s statements at the press conference, the reference to giving false testimony refers to a lengthy interview of Thompson by an investigating Spokane Police Department detective whose name was not mentioned.

“What it looks like in hindsight,” the Center for Justice’s Breean Beggs said, when asked about it Monday, “is that the city knew this indictment was coming and did its best to get out a public relations story, trashing Otto, in the papers before readers knew about the indictment.”

As in nearly all cases of this stature, until Karl Thompson’s trial, there have been more unanswered questions to be resolved than there are hard answers. For example:

Given this was a sealed Grand Jury indictment, when were the Spokane City Attorneys told of its contents? Was it before what I believe to be the ill-fated, defamatory and false counter-suit against the Zehm family? It would seem so, given Rocco Treppiedi’s long and illuminating history of counter-suing anyone who files a claim against the City of Spokane, that seems credible enough. Do we know enough to prove it? No.

References are made to an investigator for the Spokane Police Department who interviewed Thompson which resulted in Count Two of the indictment. Of course, until Thompson’s trial, we may never know the named of this brave soul who probably sacrificed his career in the SPD in exchange for justice.

If the second count of the indictment is upheld by the court trial, yesterday why did Police Chief Ann Kirkpatrick wax euphorically about what a good cop Thompson has been for 37 years? Is she blithering daffy or simply trying to muster her troops under fire? Which is it?

If you have read the Center for Justice’s web link (above) then you know Karl F. Thompson, Jr. is facing some pretty serious jail time if convicted of the two felonies. Along the path between now and trial, it could make or break the careers of several local attorneys. There are a lot more questions than answers, but what remains to be seen is can the Spokane Police Department learn from their mistakes and restore the public’s trust? 

That seems to be most of the issues that leap out at me.

Portions of this text and the picture of McDevitt all courtesy of The Center for Justice ( with our gracious thanks.


Officer Karl Thompson indicted in Otto Zehm case

Good afternoon, Netizens…


Office Karl Thompson has been indicted for various charges, including making false statements in the Otto Zehm case it was announced at 3:00 PM today by US Attorney Jim McDevitt. Details to follow.


The Big Dog of Iran under fire? It seems so…

Good morning, Netizens…

If you truly are curious about the political strife inside Iran, the ongoing battles between protesters and the factional government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the riot police took to the streets once again yesterday and more bloodshed occurred. However, you might want to read the following piece in detail, as it tells of a covert attempt on the part of one of Iran’s principal government leaders, Ayatollah Rafsanjani, to overthrow or possibly force the resignation of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad.

This appears to be only the edge of the iceberg, as there are additional rumors circulating in various places on the Internet of a series of covert meetings between Rafsanjani and various other clerics to eliminate the position of Supreme Leader entirely. One source especially deserves close reading as it contains some rumors, and some facts:

Thus far, nobody in authority has stepped forward to admit nor deny any of these allegations. However, given we have both major Iranian and several other web sites all stating this to be true, we can be relatively certain that major political unrest in Iran doesn’t start in the streets, but may extend fully to engulf the top of Iran’s government including the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini.

The election is ostensibly over, and perhaps for the moment Ahmadinejad has won, but it does appear that the battle for the hearts and souls of all of Iran is far from over. It may have just begun.


Oh? We’ve had better on our side of the line…

Good morning, Netizens…

Picture of the Day: June 20, 2009 Clifford DesPeaux/ Fremont Solstice Parade participants dress in plastic grocery bags. (Clifford DesPeaux/

Oh? This picture of the day reminds me of the gathering of the Huckleberries Online Faithful held in Idaho recently which, to my opinion, beats this picture down pat. Not to be outdone by the residents of Seattle in their brash, irreverent parade celebrating the arrival of summer, one of the Huckleberries Online Faithful came to HBO’s party fashionably attired in a dress adorned with condums.

While we may not have had naked bicyclists who tended to stand out in the parade, nor some of the more esoteric entries, that memory of the condum dress will stick in my memory forever.


Quote of the Day — June 22, 2009

Good morning, Netizens…

In this picture, (June 21, 2009 AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) an Iranian woman living in Germany weeps during a protest against the results of the Presidential elections in Iran and post election violence, in Berlin, Germany, Sunday. Which brings us to our quote of the day:

In politics you must always keep running with the pack. The moment that you falter and they sense that you are injured, the rest will turn on you like wolves.
R. A. Butler (1902 - 1982)

How about a good game of Chicken?

Good evening, Netizens…

From the AP Wire

Here is an AP picture of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain as it approaches Busan in South Korea.

WASHINGTON: Senator John McCain, who appeared today on CBS’ “Face the Nation” stated the U.S. should board a North Korean ship it is tracking if hard evidence shows it is carrying missiles or other cargo that violates the U.N. sanctions and resolutions.

The South Korean news media reported Sunday that the ship was sailing toward Myanmar via Singapore. However, several sources told members of the news media that North Korea seldom exports anything but weapons.

The Obama administration has said it’s prepared to confront ships believed to be carrying contraband materials from or to North Korea, but would not try to forcibly board them.

If there is valid, hard evidence indicating this ship is carrying missiles or other weapons of mass destruction (or parts thereto) should the United States forcibly board the ship? The difficult part about answering this is do we have hard evidence that anything illegal is going on?

If this were your call, what would you do?


Losing on Father’s Day…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Rather than write effusively about the rite of my father, since that relationship in my life was dismal, heartbreaking and full of personal anguish, I’ll briefly mention that I am utterly proud of my son, who lives far away from here, but is in my heart and mind nearly every week through the miracles of modern communications. I could write pages about how my son and I were separated nearly from his birth, and how we were reunited when he found me on the Internet, and our strange reunion in the Amana Colonies in Iowa on a miserably hot day. My God, we’re clones, looking so much alike that even my wife was overwhelmed by our similarities in appearance, education and personalities.

Instead, I have decided to write about the losers of Fathers Day, those men who for perhaps similar reasons to my own, find Father’s Day to be a day tinged with sadness, emptiness and even grief. We never hear about these men, rejected by their sons and daughters for a number of reasons, or how it must feel to go through life without knowing your children.

Pop, fritz— a review of last night’s storm

Good morning, Netizens…

As severe lightning storms go, I suppose last night’s episode rates about a 6 on a 10-scale when it comes to severity or perhaps a 7 if you include the blowout of the Avista transformer yard somewhere near Euclid Avenue. It took the lights of downtown Spokane out in one smooth flash, and I laughed despite myself. Those transformers blowing reminded me so much of Ice Storm, where we sat in our front yard watching the pretty blue flashes in all quadrants of the compass as Spokane’s power grid began melting down. Fortunately things were restored fairly quickly. It simply will not do to have all those downtown bars sitting in the dark.

I was more than a little bit miffed that the alert I posted last night about the approaching storm beat out all three television stations, which I know Jeanie will enjoy. By the time KREM broadcast their first warning, the storm was already hammering away at Airway Heights. I had been monitoring the approaching squall line from the time it hit Davenport with lightning and hail, which is about when the U.S. Weather Bureau first issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Lincoln County. Given the storm’s direction of travel, I knew it was going to hit Spokane.

However, the number of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were somewhat overrated by the local weather forecasters. Obviously from the near-raving quality of their commentary at 11:00 PM last night, few if any Spokane TV meteorologists have ever seen a real midwestern-style severe thunderstorm up-close and personal. Instead of one cloud-to-ground strike every 3 minutes, which seemed to be the predominate average in last night’s storm, a truly awesome severe storm in the Midwest is one strike every minute and one-half, sometimes even less. Of course we make a big thing out of an F0 (on the Fujita scale) tornado, where people in the Midwest are used to seeing F2 or F3 tornadoes every year, and occasionally an F4 or an F5. Yes, I have seen both F4’s and F5’s. You never forget such things.

For Spokane last night’s light show was impressive. Several storm chasers West of Spokane reported seeing a wall cloud with rotation aloft, which is a sure sign conditions are ripe for a tornado, but fortunately, none appeared.

According to Avista Utilities, 339 customers are without power, mostly on the West Plains and East Valley locations. Hang in there! They’re working on it as fast as they can.


Possibly severe weather approaching Spokane…

Good evening, Netizens…

9:15 PM PDT

It’s not what you think. Despite the weather forecasts all evening of a 20% chance of showers and a slight possibility of thunderstorms, as of half an hour ago, at approximately 9:15 PM PDT, a line of severe thunderstorms are approaching Spokane from the west.

According to the weather bureau these cells may contain severe ground-to-earth lightning, gusty winds, heavy rain and perhaps even hail.

Take all reasonable precautions.


The King’s English in review…

Good evening, Netizens…

KREM-2 News needs a copy editor in the worst way. Quoting from their article titled: City of Spokane Responds to the Zehm lawsuit, I quote from the second paragraph:

The lawsuit, which names the city and nine police officers, was filed earlier this year and was recently amended by the plaintiffs.  <SP> Attornys for Otto Zehm’s estate and his mother <SP>field the federal lawsuit in March.  The suit claims police not only violated laws but state laws too, including Zehm’s right to privacy after his death.

End quote.

Since this is the fourth or fifth time in as many days that I have found egregious and glaring use and spelling gaffes in their news copy, I cannot help but wonder what is going on at KREM-2. In these days, when nearly every word processor and some text editors have spell checking built in, you would assume that it would catch the misspelled word “Attornys”. Since the word “field” probably was a typographical misspelling of the word “filed” the spell checker would have done little good.

One hopes that eventually someone will rise from the rubble with a good working command of the King’s English or at least carefully edit the news on their web pages.


Cronkite purportedly gravely ill…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Portions from the AP Wire

Walter Cronkite, one of my great American heroes is purportedly gravely ill. Although CBS is not commenting upon his condition at this time, the 92-year-old former anchor of “The CBS Evening News,” who has been ailing for some time, has reportedly taken a turn for the worse, according to TVNewser and other online sites.

The face of CBS News for more than two decades, Cronkite was named “the most trusted man in America” in a 1972 “trust index” survey, and he ended each broadcast with the reassuring signoff, “And that’s the way it is.”


Otto Zehm Died for our sins…

Good afternoon Netizens…

By now most of you reading this already have heard the City of Spokane asked a federal court Friday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the family of Otto Zehm over his death in police custody in March 2006, saying the developmentally disabled janitor, not police, is responsible for his own death. Does this come as a surprise to anyone?

After all, when you have the likes of Rocco Treppeidi arguing for the City of Spokane against the Zehm estate, I’m frankly astounded Treppeidi didn’t already file a lawsuit against Otto Zehm’s estate, as if there was anything to take.

Which farce would you like? We have the farce where sworn police officers referred to a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi in Otto Zehm’s hands as a “legal weapon”. Yeah, sure. Got a permit for your Pepsi?

We have the farce of the circumstances themselves, where when confronted by officers at the Zip Trip, Zehm refused their orders to stop and to drop the two-liter bottle of soda he was holding. When he refused officers’ orders, he was struck with a baton, jolted with a Taser, handcuffed and hog-tied. Oh yes, and then, the ultimate farce, when he was choked to death by a mask that did not have an airway.

This sordid affair smacks of BS, a pile of crap and it is time for the City of Spokane Police Department to admit their culpability and make amends, not file for dismissal.

Do you believe, for a minute, that Otto Zehm was responsible for his own death?


The Big Dog speaks…

Good morning, Netizens…

(AP) Tehran, Iran

The only vote that matters in the Iran election was just cast, although it remains to be seen by those of us in the world whether that will actually end the contention unfolding in Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said protests should cease and the opposition must pursue its complaints within the confines of the cleric-led ruling system.

He said protesters would be “held responsible for chaos if they didn’t end” days of massive demonstrations. The unrest has posed the greatest challenge to the system since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought it to power.

Khamenei said official results showing a landslide for hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were beyond question.

“There is 11 million votes difference, Khamenei said. “How one can rig 11 million votes?”

The Big Dog has just shown his teeth, and despite his promises that the highest electoral authority will pursue election complaints, the instability and political contention unfolding in Iran seems certain to continue. As for the question of how one could rig 11 million votes, the answer is simple: invent votes and voters. We have a history of that here in the States that is enviable.


Red sky in morning…

Good morning, Netizens…

A particularly meaningful quote taken from this AP picture of the lobsterman in Maine states, “People who sleep until 10 o’clock miss the prettiest part of the day…” and as an early-riser, I could not agree more vehemently. Regardless of whether you are an urban-dweller or reside in the shrinking countryside, rising before the dawn always gives you the most-beautiful way to view the beginning of a new day.

As a vagabond sojourner in the State of Maine a long time ago, I never forgot the lobstermen and women who gathered each day in the quaint restaurants and cafes each morning before the dawn to have coffee and conversation, to discuss the weather, the price of the catch and of course, despite being taciturn by nature, occasionally the philosophies that guide their lives.

As I rise this morning, a bit before the skies in the East turn color, I pause and reflect upon the red sky in the morning, consider the implications of weather that it forebodes and laugh to myself at those feckless weather forecasters on television who, it seems, never look at the morning skies early in the morning.

Despite the weather, we communally have within our grasp the ability if not the obligation to make this day one of exceptional beauty and meaning or we can destroy it, wreck havoc and commit mayhem. Today: use on that basis.


Killing socialized medicine…

Good evening, Netizens…

I wondered when David Horsey would get around to pinning the tail for public health insurance on the jackass, I mean the elephant.

Of course, what you cannot see in this cartoon are the tons of money crammed into that poor little insurance company lobbyists satchel, some of which doubtlessly will be slipped to the elephant beneath the table. After all, everyone gets a little largesse in such a grand scheme as killing the public health insurance option, don’t they?

The real issue which David Horsey has exposed, for the sake of those not looking in recently, is that with over 50 million Americans unable to afford health insurance, where do we draw the line?

Take the lobbyists out of health care and put the billions they have spent out of their satchels back into affordable health care for everyone might be a good first step. The real question, notwithstanding, is should the government make health care a right? Or should affordable health care be a privilege for only those who can afford it?

That decision is hanging in space right now, and perhaps there is a chance we may get a decision soon.


No Reason Given, says Mayor Mary…

Good evening, Netizens…


We have a candidate for police ombudsman. His name is Timothy Burns of Visalia, California, a retired police officer now working as a neighborhood preservation advocate.

“I am excited to be able to move this process closer to conclusion,” Verner said in a prepared statement. “I believe Mr. Burns is the right selection for our community.”

Did you notice something was missing? There was no explanation why she chose Burns over the other two candidates, the FBI official and Texas A&M instructor, or Greg Weber, a Spokane attorney and former deputy director of the Washington State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Tony Betz.

I gave Queen Mary her moniker because of her yakkety-yak-don’t-talk-back attitude, with the exception of when she is singing “Proud Mary” with Doug Clark for grins and giggles. Did we have a snow emergency? Her immediate response took fifteen lines of print to deny it. Most anytime she has something to say she is chattier than a Chatty Cathy doll stuck in overdrive.

Who muzzled Queen Mary on her choice of ombudsman and why? Is there an unseen hand keeping her from explaining why she chose Burns?

Now it goes before the City Council for ratification. Maybe we’ll learn the reason(s) for her choice, but probably not.


Taking one for the Gipper…

Good morning, Netizens…

Reference to:, also AP

WASHINGTON – Fewer than half of Veterans Affairs centers given a surprise inspection last month had proper training and guidelines in place for common endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopies….

“The random inspections were conducted May 13-14 at 42 VA medical centers around the country. They found that just 43 percent of the centers have standard operating procedures in place and have properly trained their staffs for using endoscopic equipment.”

I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg in that in the entire VA health system there are no SOP’s across the board from facility to facility. Each is run as a small fiefdom paying homage to each incompetent politically appointed Director. Spokane’s is no different. The VA medical system is NOT a Medical System, its a VA system.

Veterans have been taking it up the butt, something that a lot of my friends have been saying for a long time now.


Speaking plain English…

Good evening, Netizens…

The lovely Diana wrote:

Dave, are you telling me you’ve never recontextualized? Ramped it up? Had a come to Jesus meeting? Discussed organizational DNA? If not, you’re hanging out with the right people.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to hijack your thread :)

King-Gold Plutonium…

Good morning, Netizens…

North Korea’s government believes it is on a roll. Earlier yesterday it promised it would be enriching uranium in order to make more atomic bombs and that it would declare war on any nation that dares to stop its ships on the high seas.

In 2002, the last time there was a nuclear crisis involving North Korea, there were strong suspicions, especially in the United States, that North Korea already had or was developing a uranium enrichment program, but no evidence of such activity was ever found. Today they all but admitted they have had such a program in place and are building atomic bombs. Great! Now we have another nation, albeit one that is unstable, joining the nuclear fan club and eying its neighbors with plutonium in its armaments.

According to the Associated Press wire, North Korea has also vowed never to give up its nuclear ambitions, for fear that the United States might be contemplating the overthrow of the Kim Jong Il’s government.

There are also fears being made public that North Korea is about to test another nuclear bomb, which could further destabilize relations in the Far East.

Why am I worried? The situation in Korea right now is like a child possessing a box of wooden kitchen matches, a case of dynamite and a short set of fuses. All the child has to do is figure out how to strike a match…


The digital divide reviewed…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

For at least six months, perhaps even longer than that, we have been inundated with dire-sounding advertisements warning us that the analog-to-digital switch was coming for televisions, that old analog television antennas would be obsolete with the advent of digital television station transmissions. People were repeatedly given instructions on how to apply for discounted analog television converter boxes, not to mention the advertisements for analog television antennas. We were told over and over again that when the date came, old-style television equipment would simply cease working. I merely rolled my eyes, because we are satellite TV subscribers, and thus do not have a care in the world.

Apparently life isn’t quite so sublime for some people, unfortunately. Based upon the obscenely-high number of people calling the federal hotline established for people making the conversion, over 100,000 homes still have not made the conversion to digital, and were calling for help as late as Friday, the day the conversion to fully-digital television signals took place.


Did people simply put off making the conversion until the last possible moment? Were they simply lazy and forgetful?

Are there actually that many homes where not having a working television is that unimportant? Of course, this begs the question, are there that many homes where people do not get their daily ration of news from their television sets? If not the TV, where do they get their news? Ah, I get it. These are people who pay for newspaper subscriptions, right?

Of course we could look on the positive side and imply from these statistics that there are that many homes where people are not dependent upon television for their entertainment needs, such as soap operas, reality TV shows, cartoons for the kids and game shows.

Whatever importance American television viewers place on television, apparently it wasn’t important enough for them to make the conversion. What does this say about American tastes?

Now let’s do a little test of our own: how many people reading this either are using a digital converter box to watch regular broadcast TV channels or know someone who does?


The reality of Swine Flu Virus…

Good evening, Netizens…

David Horsey’s cartoon pretty much has Swine Flu Virus pegged.

Unless one has actually caught Swine Flu, you never really have respect for it. It’s just like the flu, you feel like a Mac truck just rolled over you on the concrete sidewalk, you have a low-grade fever, you have a cough like a pack-a-day smoker and simply want a place to hide. Of course, some people who caught the Swine Flu died, but fortunately the percentages are low.

But it is infectious, having migrated to nearly every country in the world, and it is spreading fairly rapidly.

So what is a pandemic?

It must meet three criteria:

It must be the emergence of a disease new to a population, and;

The agent infects humans causing serious illness, and ;

The agent must spread easily and quickly among humans.

You might think from the manner in which the word pandemic is bandied around it is much worse than it actually is. At least for now.


The male’s duty?

Good morning, Netizens…

David Horsey has spoken out this morning for the non-aligned persons of American society who spend a disproportionate amount of time each day looking for reasons to hate President Barack Obama who recently took his wife out for dinner and a night at the theater.

Could it possibly be that one of the reasons for the resentment expressed in David Horsey’s cartoon this morning might be because some married middle-aged men have been ignoring their duty to take their wives out on a hot evening date, maybe just once in awhile? Of course, some may ask, is that actually necessary?

Whoa! A duty?

How about the pleasure principle? You give and thus receive. Otherwise you end up like the woman in this cartoon, frustrated and angry at watching a husband who does tend his responsibilities and duties rather than sit with a can of beer in hand raging on about Obama.

Does this fit anyone you know?


The “new” Phil Spector emerges…

Good evening, Netizens…

O how the once powerful and mighty have fallen.

This AP jail house picture of Phil Spector, sans his various wigs, pretty much says it all for me. This comes after several statements given to the news media by his wife that his wigs were actually his own hair, which one observes from this picture, is apparently not so.

Spector, known for his many elaborate hairstyles over the years, had to abandon his wigs after being sentenced last month to 19 years to life for killing actress Lana Clarkson. The prison system in California does not allow wigs excepting for “medical emergencies”.

In his heyday in the early and mid-1960s, Spector produced dozens of hits, including The Ronette’s “Be My Baby,” The Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” and The Righteous Brothers’ classic, “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin.’” Spector also worked on the Beatles album “Let It Be” and John Lennon’s album, “Imagine.”

His “Wall of Sound” used orchestrations and sometimes dozens of microphones to produce a dense, echoing sound that influenced everyone from The Beach Boys to Bruce Springsteen.

According to the Associated Press, Spector is wearing a Jewish yarmulke — or skull cap — in his cell and is conferring regularly with a prison rabbi and receives kosher food at mealtimes.

My, how life has changed for Phil Spector.


The expectations of Blogging…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

David Horsey’s cartoon hit it on the head again, for some.

When I began this Blog over a year ago, I admit freely I had some preconceptions of what I was committed to, because for over a decade, I had written in Usenet News on the Internet every day, sometimes four or five times a day. For those who are unaware of it, Usenet news is a similar forum to that of the Blog; the only major difference is Usenet originated with long and sometimes even scholarly treatises written by subscribers. Over time, that degenerated into an exchange of opinions, if you’ll pardon my making light of what later became known as “flame wars” and then amateur (and in some cases professional) pornography took over the alt news hierarchies, and the descent into societal pigsties began.

Today’s Usenet news bears little resemblance to its historical self. I can vividly recall the first time I sat down (on a mainframe terminal, no less) and read “the news”, as it was referred to in that day. Depending upon the amount of time I had available, I could easily spend four or five hours luxuriating in treatises on the latest software developments, often written by the authors of applications and protocols I used in simply navigating the Internet in those days. Of course, there were stories written about places I had either seen or fondly dreamed of seeing, many written by people who were there, in the first-person, or whose experiences were vastly better-informed than my own.

For over a decade I ran my own news server, which was in retrospect either some considerable accomplishment, or simply a waste of electrons; your results may differ. At its peak if offered four established journalists, half a dozen (or more) network engineers, and as many as twenty various others: we wrote about and from the gamut of the human experience. Science, software engineering, the development of the Web as we know it today, the development of the Linux kernel into a working operating system— and then there was politics. If you didn’t like the news you heard on the TV or in the newspaper, as the comment went, you could probably find something more to your taste in Usenet. 

I never held to the dream, as shown in David Horsey’s cartoon, of making gunny sacks full of money writing for Community Comment. Not hardly in an age when real journalists, those who have made their living writing each day, are standing out on the street peering in the windows of America’s newsrooms on unemployment. Not when bastions of literacy such as The Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and so many others have already closed their doors for good, leaving some of the best writers in America looking for work.

Printer’s ink still runs in my veins from having worked in the industry years ago, but I recognize writing a Blog is still not journalism. However, compulsive writing can be journalism; it depends upon the years of training and discipline involved. Unfortunately not even good well-trained and professional journalists are making money these days.

Writing an opinion is hardly the same as writing news journalism, and thus, writing a Blog is not the same as being a journalist. Agree or disagree?


When it is time to be quiet…

Good evening, everyone…

After a thorough review of the police reports involved, including those given to the Spokesman, it is painfully aware to anyone reading the story of what happened, we have either (a) a suspect with a gun who vanished into thin air or (b) an officer either didn’t see what his statements indicated or as a final option, someone cleverly escaped from an open window in the house, eluding the police that had a house surrounded and managed to effect an escape. It all depends upon whom you believe.

It about 9:00 AM this morning, when Spokane Valley police were attempting to do a follow-up on a report stolen property had been seen on the property at 11423 E. Broadway. After a scuffle in the front yard involving two people, police arrested a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, but still no sign of the stolen property. However, according to all available news reports, one officer stated he saw a male run back into the house carrying a gun. Thus began a standoff, the lockdown of several nearby schools, street closures and police telling their neighbors not to leave their homes.

According to Detective Dave Thornburg’s press release, deputies said after the two juveniles were arrested, they saw a possible third suspect looking out of a window in the home, along with lights being turned on and off.

Once a search warrant was obtained, officers from SWAT made entry into the house and searched the premises for the man with a gun, but could find no trace of him nor of a gun. They did, however, recover some stolen property from a burglary at A to Z Rental, including two weed trimmers, a rototiller and a chain saw. Most had been dismantled. Thornburg said the stolen items may have been used for parts for two mini-cycles found inside the home, which use the same type of motor. Now that is interesting. A mini-cycle powered by a chain saw motor won’t go very fast, but it will cut down trees with the proper appointments.

In a statement made by the co-owner of the house, Vanessa Westerman, made lots of florid press when she stated the arrested teens are her children. “If they punched a cop, good for them,” she said. “They (the police) have no right to be in my house.”

Don’t look now, but the search warrant and the recovered stolen property gives them every right to be in the house. Perhaps at this late stage of the game she might want to contact a bail bondsman for her teenagers, and maybe an attorney to help explain away the recovered stolen property before she makes any further statements for the news media. 



Things we overlook…

Good morning, Netizens…

Dr. John Olsen forwarded this to me, and although there was no attribution as to source, it seemed generic enough that I wanted to post it anyway.

Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. A gentleman played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3 year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes:

The musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.

He collected $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ….

How many other things are we missing?


Our vagabond reaches Vilnius…

Good morning, Netizens…

As some of you know, Mhibbs is in Eastern Europe playing the role of the Great Gadabout and I received this report from him this morning:

Well here I am in scenic, downtown Vilnius. Just back from a short walking

tour of the area. You’ve got to like a place that has a cobblestone town

center of its capitol city and holds outdoor weddings in the main square.

Good sidewalk cafes for people watching although the price of coffee is going

to put me in the poorhouse. Minimum of $2 for a small cup of espresso. I’ll

do a tour of the city on the morrow and will give a report as time allows.


For those of you who do not know where Lithuania is, it is bordered by Latvia (Latvija), Poland (Polska) and Russia in far-eastern Europe and has a vibrant incredible history. Many of the buildings, churches and residences built in the 1300-1400’s still exist today. I am hopeful that Marty will bring back some pictures of Vilnius on his laptop and share the wealth he is enjoying.


Who is the Great Satan?

Good morning, Netizens…

David Horsey’s cartoon this morning suggests that not even Muslim extremists are having a difficult time buying into the schematic of President Obama being the living embodiment of the Great Satan as once described by Osama Bin Laden. Is it possible that were it not for George W. Bush Islamic hatred of the United States would never have risen to its present peak?

Is The Great Satan former President Bush, President Obama or the United States itself?

Or is Islamic perceptions of America’s love affairs with alcohol and drug abuse, loose sexual mores and hedonistic lifestyle what makes us the Great Satan?

Do you see glimpses of the Great Satan when you peer into the mirror? Who is it you are seeing?


Hide That Thong!

From KHQ:

Yakima: No thongs, see-through clothes in public


YAKIMA, Wash. - The Yakima City Council is cracking down on what an ordinance delicately refers to as “cleavage of the buttocks.”

Responding to a proliferation of coffee stands with baristas wearing see-through clothing, thongs and other scanty apparel, the council this week approved minor changes to the city’s indecent exposure law.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that Mayor Dave Elder had wanted the changes under the city’s adult business ordinance, but city legal staff warned that trying to place coffee stands under that law could lead to legal challenges.

The change approved by the council means that anyone in public wearing see-through apparel, a thong or a G-string, regardless of whether they are working at a coffee stand, could be prosecuted for a misdemeanor violation.

Personally - I despise thongs.  That little strip of material riding up your tush - it’s just so unappealing - to look at and to feel.  Well, they can’t cry foul at not being able to bare your all on the beach.  I can’t think of a beach in Yakima. 

I wonder how this would fly in Coeur d’Alene or any of our area lake communities.


Who are these people?

Good morning, Netizens…

Passed to me by one of my many supporters and fans:

Even if you aren’t a sports fan this is very interesting!

Who is it?

36 have been accused of spousal abuse

7 have been arrested for fraud

19 have been accused of writing bad checks

117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses

3 have done time for assault

71,repeat— 71cannot get a credit card due to bad credit

14 have been arrested on drug-related charges

8 have been arrested for shoplifting

21 currently are defendants in lawsuits, and
84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year

Can you guess which organization this is?

Neither, it’s the 535 members of the United States Congress

The same group of Idiots that crank out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.


Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, mountain climber…

Good evening, Netizens…

[Portions from KXLY-TV and their respective web site]

I am certain there are some who will shake their sage heads at me and complain I must have gone “over to the other side” or some other claptrap, but such is not the case. Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick celebrated her 50th birthday by climbing Mount Rainier, which I know from years spent hiking around Mount Hood, is no simple feat at all.Yet hardly anyone noticed her achievement, something I found lacking.

Climbers, even experienced climbers, have encountered technical challenges climbing Ranier in the past, and have been forced by foul weather and climbing conditions to return to base camp, but in Chief Kirkpatrick’s favor is her will to achieve her goals.

According to KXLY-TV Chief Kirkpatrick hiked the nine and one-half miles from the Paradise Visitor’s Center to the Ranier crater over two days, she reached the peak at approximately 12,500 feet just shortly after sunrise.That is some serious climbing.

Before anyone mutters some deprecations about who paid for her climb, Chief Kirkpatrick paid for it all herself; after all, it was her birthday present to herself.

Only half of the 9,000 people who set out to climb Mt. Rainier last year actually reached the summit, because it is treacherous and not an easy climb. This year Anne Kirkpatrick added her name to those that had made it to the top.

Happy Birthday, Chief Kirkpatrick and congratulations on a successful and safe climb.


The myterious demise of Flight 447…

Good morning, Netizens…

The entire world is focused on a remote portion of the Atlantic Ocean this morning as the search for the remains of the Air France Jet AF 447 with 228 people on board continues. Nearly all the world news services agree, there is little chance of finding any survivors left from the jet which went down in mysterious circumstances while on a routine flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris, France. However, the unending question resides: what happened to Flight 447?

As always, there are rumors, half-baked truths and even omissions from the news stories that are circulating on the Internet, but as I see it, the few basic facts we have regarding the disappearance of Flight 447 are substantial and informative.

There apparently was a bomb threat made in previous weeks in Brazil which some news sources are falsely alluding might involve flight 447. However what facts we actually have at our disposal state unequivocally that Flight 447 was in “good shape”, recently been serviced and was ready for travel. Perhaps there was a bomb on board the flight, but no proof exists of any terrorist threat.

There are others, including several French officials, that have stated the plane flew into a series of incredible thunderstorms, which are common in the area at this time of year. Having known a number of commercial pilots over the years, I asked several if they could ever fly a plane into one of these 50,000 foot-tall monstrosities, horribly-strong thunderstorms, and I got the same answer. No commercial pilot flying a plane filled with passengers would risk coming near such a huge storm. According to Air France, the AF 447 was equipped with full weather radar, and thus would have known long before the plane encountered problems whether to change course or, in the case of being unable to do so, land at the nearest safe airport/return to Brazil. The pilot of the missing jet was experienced, skilled and, one would hope, unwilling to fly into such a storm.

Then we have the only category that defines what little is known: the unknown status of the jet before the nebulous automated message(s) began arriving that the plane had suffered some kind of electrical, hydraulic or airframe failure. It had been flying at approximately 33,000 feet, and from the wreckage path, strewn all over the ocean in a 30 mile swath, we can only determine approximately where the plane came down.

Investigators need the “black boxes” from the aircraft before they can do more than speculate, and it does seem speculation is what the news media offers when they have no facts to go on. Those black boxes may be as far down as 1,000 feet beneath the sea inside the wreckage of what was once an Air France jet. It may be days or even weeks before a submersible capable of operating at such oceanic depths will be able to find the remnants of the jet, and even then, it will be a technically-challenging task to find the black boxes when and if they can reach the remnants of Flight 447.

We may never know what happened aboard that flight. All we can safely state at this point in time is that everything humanly possible is being done to find the facts.


Marty Hibbs checks in from Europe…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Just as I returned to the office, I received the following message from MHibbs, who is traveling throughout portions of Eastern Europe:

Finally over the jet lag and have found a reliable net cafe…  Taking lots of photos and storing up tales for when I return.  Lithuania is this weekend.  I may have net access there.  Dunno for sure.  See ya in a couple of weeks.

It has been decades since I wandered around Europe, but then I was both young enough and fearless enough (spell that stupid if you must) to travel most of Europe astride a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. Although I didn’t acquire any bruises during my sojourn, I did manage to get totally lost one time and had to sleep in a ditch a time or two.

But I’ll wager that Marty isn’t doing anything like that. I have read (and heard) some disturbing reports about the failing economy in Eastern Europe, including from a person who hails from that region. I can hardly wait for Marty’s sake return and with it, a lot of excellent tales and good pictures of his travels.



AP- Possible debris from Air France jet found…

Good morning, Netizens…

AP news reports possible debris of Air France jet found…

(AP) BRASILIA, Brazil – Brazil’s Air Force says it has found airplane seats and other debris floating in the Atlantic Ocean along the path that a missing Air France jet was flying. Air Force spokesman Jorge Amaral says the seats were spotted by search planes early Tuesday morning but that authorities cannot immediately confirm they were from the plane.

Also spotted were small white pieces of debris, material that may be metallic and signs of oil and kerosene, which is used as jet fuel.

The debris was found about 390 miles (650 kilometers) northeast of the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.

Some versions of the distance disagree with one another, with several sources stating the distance from Rio De Janeiro as 1000 miles. No matter how you slice and dice it, being 390 miles from land after what appears to have been a catastrophic airplane crash, the chances appear pretty slim of recovering any passengers.


The VA in Spokane is dismal, indeed…

Good morning, Netizens…

Because I know and love Bob, and have been following what I would term his descent into Hades courtesy of the Veteran’s Administration, and because what the VA is doing is both unethical if not immoral, this morning I am going to post Bob’s comments from his Blog, in the hopes that someone at the Veteran’s Administration will either read it or take action. That is because I am past disgusted; I am totally revulsed at what they have done to my friend.

And then, last night…

By bk

We interrupt the pleasant reminiscences to give an update on the Quality of Care the Spokane VA hospital provides.

Drawn again to the hospital by a tight chest, productive cough, intermittent chills and hot flashes, weakness and sleeping a lot; sounds like bronchitis to me and since that turns into pneumonia easily, I trudged, reluctantly to the Spokane VA. I got there at 9:40 pm and by 10:00 I had been triaged and sent up to x-ray for a chest view. I was impressed with the speed and efficiency and wondered what had changed to improve service so much.

It was a premature thought.

I was sent back to the waiting room where I sat until midnight. Then a lab tech showed up to finally take some blood. It took her two tries to get a vein. This is surprising because I have very prominent veins that stick out and don’t roll. But it took her two painful tries but she got the needed blood and mentioned that the lab results would be ready in an hour to an hour and a half. The charge nurse then commented it would probably be that long again before a doctor could see me. In other words, I and my wife would have to spend the night in the waiting room with no access to my pain meds which I need every three hours. Sitting 20 minutes in a waiting room habituated by sick people is a bad idea for a Myeloma victim’s dysfunctional immunity; six hours is reckless and besides, it causes me to miss two pain medication times leaving me in a lot of discomfort for that whole time.

I went home without help, told that I could call my medical team in the morning and they could get the lab results to the doctor so I could get the antibiotics I went there to get. so I call in the morning and they tell me they cannot do that and the earliest they can get me a doctors appointment is September.

That’s not unlike four weeks ago when my oncologist ordered his nurse to give me a sot of Demerol because the pain in my feet was so intense. The nurses refused and instead sent me to the ER who told me they could get me to a doctor for the shot in about 3 hours. I went home and took morphine and got relief 2 full hours before I’d have seen the doctor.

The quality of care at the Spokane VA has gotten atrocious and has reached the level of insult. The care given there is a slap in the face to those who gave and suffered so much with the promise of the best possible health care being abrogated by the VA.

I don’t understand why the people in the Spokane area are not outraged; how many of them have loved ones stuck in the failing system. It disappoints me that everyone ignores the situation, which only gets worse day by day.


Who pays for river rescues when signs warn of danger?

Good morning, Netizens…

[Picture courtesy of KREM-TV]

There is a lot of chatter in the morning news about the “dramatic rescue” of a woman who was kayaking down the Spokane River East of the Barker Street Bridge, which is under repair and got trapped in debris beneath the bridge. The Fire Department finally resorted to cutting a hole in the bridge floor to effect the rescue. Once that was out of the way, and a fireman was lowered down to the stranded kayak, she was pulled to the surface.

I have seen the warning signs along the river, advising boaters to stay out of the river. The river is high, running very fast due to the Spring runoff, and cold. The signs say STAY OUT but this woman and her partner apparently chose to ignore them. There have been a number of these rescues this Spring, each one where rescue workers’ lives were put in peril because someone couldn’t read the warning signs.

So logic prods me to ask, since they ignored official warnings, shouldn’t they be responsible for the costs of their rescue? Send them a bill for services and watch the number of incidents drop. That makes sense to me.


The SR wins 12 awards for excellence…

Good morning, Netizens…

The Spokesman-Review waltzed in the doorway of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northwest and took second place in the annual Excellence in Journalism contest. That is no mean trick because it takes a lot of fortitude, dedication and belief in ones self to write news each day and make it meaningful. However, when our local paper takes on such big bastions of journalism and news media as The Seattle Times, KING-TV and the Portland Oregonian, and takes second place for the best web site design, we collectively can throw our chests out with pride.

Ryan Pitts, the Spokesman-Review web site developer, deserves a slap on the back for a job well done, considering he brought forth a new web design and redesigned the Blog pages over the last year. Speaking as an armchair observer, I can state without qualification that he was patient without a flaw in getting the update(s) to us, and repeatedly worked late into the day making things work as smooth as silk.

Of course, if you are going to sing the praises of one, you should not neglect to mention Photographer Dan Pelle and who also won second place overall for several excellent multimedia productions.

Reporter Kevin Graman won second in watchdog reporting for “Lives Lost at Home,” a report on the suicides of veterans who came into contact with the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center and that travesty we call the Spokane Veteran’s Administration.

Given the competition, we have nothing to be ashamed of at all.


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